Claremore Chamber of Commerce announces opposition to Rogers County one-cent road tax renewal

CLAREMORE - May 14, Rogers County residents will head to the polls and weigh in on a one-cent road tax renewal. The tax would go to the improvement and construction of roads and bridges across the county.

Rogers County Commissioner for District 3, Kirt Thacker, said the tax, which has been in effect since 1988, is subject to be renewed every five years.

"It is mandated that it be spent on roads and bridges," he said. "Bridges are very expensive. Most other counties have deficient bridges, while we are whittling away at that number every year."

The Claremore Chamber of Commerce, however, has announced its position to vote "no" next week, and is requesting that county commissioners reconsider the vote.

"The Chamber's vote no position maintains the proposed one cent tax renewal proposal does not address key economic growth concerns for the county and within the City of Claremore at this time," the chamber said in a statement released last month.

The chamber states that more than 50 percent of the one-cent tax collected comes from business within Claremore's city limits.

Chamber officials say the board's main concern is a 15-year, one-third penny tax increase that was approved June 26, 2012 to address a $22 million judgment for Material Service Corp. of Cushing.

In its statement, the chamber asks commissioners to consider using "a percentage of the one-cent tax to pay off the lawsuit settlement in a shorter time."

Thacker said the one-cent road tax provides Rogers County with about $6 million annually, which is distributed evenly among the three districts.

He says the renewal has had a great response over the years, and credits the tax as one the reasons Rogers County is one of the fastest growing counties in Oklahoma. The tax has been renewed four times since its inception.

The chamber did say it "acknowledges all county residents, school districts, fire and safety agencies and businesses have benefitted from previous road tax revenues" and "the result of this tax investment by Rogers County citizens has been quality rural roads throughout the county."

The election is set for May 14. The current tax is set to expire October of this year.

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